One of my favorite events in the fall is the Forkland
Heritage Festival and Revue that happens in October near my home. This
festival takes visitors back to the times of the late 1800s and through the
mid-1900s when life was not cluttered with more e-mails than we can ever
answer and neighbors were not strangers, but family and friends.
Air-conditioning and television sets or computers did not keep people
indoors, but front porches were places for cooling off after hard work days.
Entertainment came in the form of people young and old singing together to
instruments played by uncles, fathers and grandfathers. Children play
games with each other in the yard, rather than sitting along with hand-held
machines playing games alone or with strangers in other parts of the world.
Yes, work for harder for everyone, mothers included,
because there were no automatic dishwashers or clothes washers and dryers
for most people that I knew, and meals did not come from the freezer section
of the grocery but from the hand-canned foods produced in the backyard
gardens. My own mother washed clothes for eight people on a wringer
washer for most of our growing-up days and hung them out to dry on an
outdoor clothes line, come winter or summer. Everything had to be
ironed back then because there was no permanent press anything. I
absolutely hated ironing and still do to some extent. As a teenager I
tried to get by with shaking out my blue jeans with violent shakes, but my
mother would always ask me the same question -- "Are you ironing, Carolyn?"
I am a fan of modern conveniences as much as anyone else, but I do
think there are things that we are missing in our lives from having them.
It seems that the things I remember most about growing
up are the conversations with my grandparents, aunts and uncles and the
walks with my mother in the woods behind the homeplace of her family.
I do remember the front porch singings on Sunday evenings and getting water
out of a bucket, with a dipper that everyone used, on the back porch.
The water had to be drawn from a well that sat in the yard and it was only
cool when it was first drawn. I remember the rooster at my mother's
homeplace that chased my brother everytime he went to the outhouse. We
found out why later when our cousin admitted that he was out in the yard
"rocking chickens." What this meant was that he was throwing rocks at
the chickens, so Mr. Rooster did not like little boys. I also remember
a large leather razor strap that hung on my grandfather's back porch where
he shaved; it was used for more than shaving when we misbehaved!
One of my favorite books is "To Kill a Mockingbird"
because Jim and Scout remind me so much of my brother and myself when we
lived in Alabama for a time. We could wander anywhere we wanted to go,
play in our neighbor's barn and pick sweet golden plums, figs and pecans off
the trees in our yard and in the neighbors' yard. No one seemed to
care. We walked to a small grocery down the road that had raw sugar
cane sticks for sale. There was nothing sweeter to us than sucking on
those cane sticks. One of my favorite things to do was walk to town,
watch the blacksmith in his shop and then go to the library and check
out stacks of books. The library was so small that I nearly exhausted
their supply of books for someone my age, so I began reading adult-level
classics. I suppose that is when I decided that I wanted to become an
English teacher, as well as a Math teacher. Who knows!!
Practically all the children in this very small town went to the Saturday
movies at a local theatre and could watch the same movie over and over all
afternoon if we wanted to, and we usually did. There were square
dances at the school every Saturday night and people of all ages danced
together. I can remember to this day dancing with a old man who was at
least 50 years older than I was. He was probably in his fifties, but I
thought he was ancient!
I don't know why I feel like reminiscing so much; I
suppose it is because I am looking forward to the wonderful time I have at
the Forkland Festival. I did not grow up in the Forkland area of our
county or go to school there, but it feels like home to me because of the
similarities to my own life and the memories that come back to me down